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PIRANESI, Giovanni Battista (1720--1778)
Della magnificenza ed architettura de' Romani opera di Gio. Battista Piranesi Socio della Reale Accademia degli Antiquari di Londra.
Romae [G.B. Piranesi], 1761.
lxxxx p., [2] etch. t.-pl., etch. port., XXXVIII etch. pl. (4 fold.) : etch. illus. ; 54.5 cm. (1°)

The Italian title is taken from the etched title-plate; there is a second parallel title-plate in Latin reading ' ... De Romanorvm Magnificentia Et Architectvra' dated 'Romae MDCCLXI.'

The Soane copy is from an edition different from that recorded by Hind (pp. 84-85) and in the BAL catalogue (no. 2552), in that it includes a setting of the Italian text and index only (paginated iii--lxxxx), instead of the more usual parallel setting of Latin and Italian texts printed in italic and Roman type on facing versos and rectos respectively (paginated [i]--ccxii). The separate Italian and Latin etched title-plates of the bi-lingual edition and single-leaf letterpress Latin dedication to Clement XIII (who contributed 1000 scudi towards the publication), are however retained in this edition, together with Piranesi's portrait of the Pope engraved in collaboration with Domenico Cunego.

This substantial work initiates a series of ostensibly archaeological books in which Piranesi takes an aggressively polemical pro-Roman stance in the highly-charged contemporary debate over whether ancient Roman architecture was essentially Greek or Etruscan in origin (for Piranesi's subsequent, more specific elaborations of this theme, see Le rovine dell castello dell'Acqua Giulia, 1761 (q.v.), the Lapides Capitolini, 1762 (q.v.), the Campus Martius volume, 1762 (q.v.), the Antichità di Cora, 1764 (q.v.), and his series of three works on the Antichità d'Albano, 1762-4 (qq.v.)). Not surprisingly, Piranesi's tendentious championing of a robust, indigenous Roman architecture that he claimed derived directly from the ancient Etruscans rather than through assimilation of imported Grecian influences (the debased character of which he considered evident from J.D. Le Roy's recently published Les ruines des plus beaux monuments de la Grèce, 1758, q.v.), provoked immediate and prolonged controversy. When an airily dismissive letter by the French critic and connoisseur Jean-Pierre Mariette appeared in a supplement to the Gazette litteraire de l'Europe on 4 November 1764, Piranesi responded in characteristically choleric fashion with Osservazioni ... sopra la lettere de M. Mariette, 1765 (q.v.), copies of which (as here) are often bound up as a kind of adjunct to the present work.

Copy Notes Bound (1) with Osservazioni di Gio. Battista Piranesi, 1765 (q.v.).

Binding C19th calf, gilt-ruled borders, gilt-ruled spine, red spine-label gilt-lettered 'Piranesi / De Romanar. / Magnificent. / Et / Architect'. Part of a 12-volume set re-bound by Hood and McCullock, to whom Soane paid £24 on 3 July 1826. (Archive 16/12/38).

Reference Number 6405


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